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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Hicks immediately productive for O’s in loss

The ex-Yankee went 2-for-2 with a walk in his first game with the Birds.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Baltimore Orioles Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees couldn’t quite pull off the sweep, getting shutdown by an impressive pitching performance from George Kirby before eventually falling in extras, 1-0. They’re off to Los Angeles to open a much-anticipated series against the Dodgers on Friday, but before we get to that, let’s recap the action involving the contenders in the AL.

Tampa Bay Rays (40-18) 4, Chicago Cubs (24-31) 3

The Rays narrowly avoided a sweep at the hands of the last-place Cubs, hanging on by their fingernails to steal a game at Wrigley. The home team jumped out to an early lead against Zach Eflin, Ian Happ and Mike Tauchman contributing a pair of RBI singles.

Unfortunately for the Northsiders, just as they appeared to be gathering a bit of momentum they suffered another massive blow. Justin Steele entered the game as one of the few bright spots on the Chicago pitching staff, with a 2.77 ERA in 11 starts. However, after pitching three perfect innings, he was forced to exit the start with forearm tightness and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his pitching elbow.

The Rays capitalized against the Cubs bullpen, with Chicago reliever Mark Leiter Jr. surrendering a pair of two-run home runs, first to Brandon Lowe in the seventh and then to Jose Siri in the eighth.

A Trey Mancini RBI single in the seventh ensured the home team would enter the bottom of the ninth down one, and they staged a valiant comeback effort that fell just short. The Cubs loaded the bases with one out, but Jalen Beeks retired the final two batters to stick a fork in the rally as the Rays eked out a 4-3 win, becoming the first team to 40 wins.

Cleveland Guardians (25-30) 12, Baltimore Orioles (35-21) 8

Aaron Hicks was perfect in his Orioles debut, going 2-for-2 with a walk, but it wasn’t enough to lead his new team to victory. That’s because the Guardians offense was collectively locked in, tallying 17 hits and 12 runs facing a bullpen game from their hosts. Steven Kwan and José Ramírez were both 3-for-6, with the latter tallying two doubles, while Andrés Giménez went 4-for-5 with a pair driven in.

Despite these performances, the day belonged to Josh Naylor, 4-for-5 on the night with six RBI. Two of those came on a two-run bomb in the fourth before Josh Bell went back-to-back with his teammate, and three more came on a bases-clearing double in the Guardian’s five-run fifth.

Hicks was far from the only productive member of the Orioles lineup. Adley Rutschman was 4-for-5 while Anthony Santander, Ryan O’Hearn, and Ryan McKenna all drove in two as they roughed up Cleveland ace Shane Bieber for seven runs on eight hits in four innings, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the outburst by the visitors, who held on for a 12-8 win.

Milwaukee Brewers (29-26) 4, Toronto Blue Jays (29-27) 2

In a serious blast from the past, the Brewers appear to have tapped into some of Julio Teheran’s ability of yesteryear. The two-time All-Star with the Braves just logged his second impressive start for Milwaukee, holding Toronto to just one unearned run on four hits in six innings, meaning he has now allowed one earnie in two starts totaling eleven innings. Alek Manoah was far less effective, ceding two runs on three hits and three walks, requiring 89 pitches to make it just four innings.

Abraham Toro opened the scoring in the second with a two-run blast while Owen Miller drove in a further pair with a two-run double in the seventh. As for the Blue Jays, Kevin Kiermaier tripled in a run in the fifth and Whit Merrifield added an RBI single in the seventh, but for the most part they never really threatened, failing to put on more than one baserunner in any inning of the eventual 4-2 loss.

Minnesota Twins (29-27) 8, Houston Astros (32-23) 2

Louie Varland tossed a gem for the Twins, going seven scoreless with four hits and a walk against five strikeouts. Minnesota actually had an 8-0 lead heading into the eighth until back-to-back solo shots from Jake Meyers and Yainer Diaz broke up the shutout.

The Twins scored three in the third, two each in the fifth and sixth, and one in the seventh with Donovan Solano, Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Jeffers, and Willi Castro all logging two-hit nights. Solano was the big contributor in the run department, driving in two with a single in the third and a further pair on a double in the sixth.

Other Matchups:

Detroit Tigers (26-28) 3, Texas Rangers (35-20) 2

Someone finally stopped the red-hot Rangers, the Tigers hanging on to avoid being swept at home. Joey Wentz had a bend but don’t break outing, holding Texas to a run on seven hits in 4.1 innings. Detroit’s offense did just enough in the sixth, with three straight singles to open the frame followed by a Jake Rogers sac fly and Jake Marisnick RBI single to plate the two decisive runs in the contest.

Cincinnati Reds (26-29) 5, Boston Red Sox (28-27) 4

The Reds overcame an early deficit to beat up on the Red Sox bullpen after James Paxton held them to one run on four hits against eight strikeouts in five innings. Spencer Steer provided the killer blow, his two-run bomb in the Red’s three-run seventh giving them a lead they would not relinquish. Winter signing Masataka Yoshida stayed hot for Boston, going 2-for-4 with a home run, but it wasn’t enough as the Sox fell, 5-4.